The video-game industry is trying to find the balance between casual and hardcore gaming, with freemium, social-networking titles leading the casual sphere. A new development company established by former Activision employees Dusty Welch and Chris Archer, U4ia, plans to bridge the gap and make freemium a staple of hardcore titles, as well. Its first target -- the FPS.

Welch, who launched the Call of Duty franchise as senior vice president at Activision, said U4ia's first game will be an "online-only, hardcore freemium, first-person social" title. "Many studios are making casual games for a core audience," Welch said. "We're making core games for a social audience." This is very different than making core games for the socially hardcore audience or social games for the casually hardcore audience, and it may present an intriguing hybrid for new and old gamers alike.

U4ia plans to launch a beta of its first title in 2012, billed as one of its "free-to-play, AAA, hardcore, browser-based games for the connected generation." As a freemium FPS, we wonder how the weapons will be scaled -- if it will be a matter of pay to win, or if skill will have a greater impact on gameplay than money.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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